Saturday, November 19, 2011

RCA Secret & artist gender: some stats

Here is an interesting article originally posted on Lisa Gee's blog on the gender of the artists of cards bought by RCA secret buyers.

One of the things that fascinates me about the RCA Secret exhibition & sale is that it’s possibly the nearest thing we have to a gender-blind art event. Given UK Feminista’s 2010 figures showing that … 
• 83% of the artists in the Tate Modern are men
• 70% of the artists in the Saatchi Gallery are men
• 70% of the artists that have been nominated for the Turner Prize have been men and only 3 women have ever won (just 12% of all winners)
… I thought it might be interesting to see how the gender breakdown worked for RCA Secret purchases.
So I persuaded their PR people to let me have a spreadsheet detailing which postcards (by exhibition number) sold when. Then I matched the first 400 card numbers sold with their artist*.
The results† make for interesting reading. Of the first 400 postcards sold:
  • 214 were created by men (53.5%)
  • 182 by women (45.5%)
  • 2 by a woman and a man working together (0.5%)
  • 2 by artists who used their initials and whose gender I couldn’t establish (0.5%)
And of the numbers of male and female artists whose work was amongst the first 400 postcards sold?
Of a total of 254 artists:
  • 125 were men (49.21%)
  • 127 were women (50%)
  • 2 used their initials and I couldn’t establish their gender (0.79%)
I’ll leave it to others to comment.
* It’s the first 400 for two reasons.
  1. the further back you are in the queue, the less likely it is that you will be able to by your top-preference postcard. Therefore, the earliest purchases should reflect buyers’ preferences most clearly. The caveat is, the more enthusiastic the purchaser and the longer they’re willing to queue, the more knowledgeable they are likely to be about art… and, therefore, the less likely they are to be buying gender-blind.
  2. No-one was paying me to do this. Have you any idea how long it takes to match the number to the artist if you don’t know how to programme a clever script? I do have a life you know! However, if anyone fancies paying me to the whole shebang for this year, I’ll happily set aside the time…
† caveats.
  1. I’ve triple-checked, but given my manual methods & the limited time I’ve devoted to the project, it’s possible there are minor errors in my counting. So I might be out by one or two artists/postcards either way…
  2. I haven’t done a gender breakdown of all contributing artists. For the reasons detailed above.

No comments: